The study initially included six schools—one each in Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, North
Carolina, and Texas. Two schools were from rural areas, two from suburban areas, and two
from urban areas. The Georgia school dropped out of the study.
McGraw-Hill Education recruited a group of schools that had not previously used Open Court
Reading© to participate in the study. The six schools that initially participated were given free
Open Court Reading© materials, as well as a teacher training program and implementation
support. At each school, classrooms were randomly assigned within each grade either to be
enrolled in Open Court Reading© or to serve as the comparison group.
The entire study sample consisted of 57 grade 1–5 classrooms containing a total of 1,099
students. The sample considered in this review, which aligns to the Beginning Reading review
protocol, initially consisted of 44 grade 1–3 classrooms containing a total of 855 students.
After attrition, the combined analysis sample consisted of 36 classrooms containing 679
students in grades 1–3; 379 students in the 20 Open Court Reading© classrooms and 300
students in 16 comparison classrooms. Of the participating students, more than 70% were
minorities, and more than 75% were eligible for free or reduced-price lunches. Fewer than
15% were English as Second Language (ESL) students, and fewer than 10% were special
Open Court Reading© is a curriculum that includes textbooks, workbooks, decodable books,
and anthologies. The curriculum consists of three main components: (a) Preparing to Read, (b)
Reading and Responding, and (c) Language Arts. For this study, teachers were given a teacher’s
edition of the curriculum that included scripted direct instruction lessons and diagnostic
and assessment packages. The program is designed to be used for 2.5 hours per day with
grades 1–2 and for 2 hours per day with grades 4–6. However, the authors report that external
consultants observed that some teachers provided only 90 minutes of daily instruction. The
intervention was implemented from fall to spring during the 2005–06 school year.
The comparison classrooms used a “business-as-usual” curriculum and were instructed not to
use Open Court Reading© or any of its materials. Principals mentioned that curricula currently
in use by the comparison classrooms consisted of Reading Street by Scott Foresman, Literacy
Place by Scholastic, McGraw-Hill Reading by MacMillan/McGraw-Hill, Collections by Harcourt,
and Trophies by Harcourt. Consultants visited comparison classrooms and verified that
they were not using Open Court Reading©.
For both the pretest (October 2005) and the posttest (May 2006), students took the CTBS/5
Terra Nova Reading Comprehension and Vocabulary subtests. A Reading Composite score
was also reported, which is the average of these two subtest measures. For a more detailed
description of these outcome measures, see Appendix B. Findings for the combined student
sample on the Reading Composite score can be found in Appendix C.2. Additional findings
reflecting subtest outcomes separately for grades 1, 2, and 3 can be found in Appendix D.2.
Support for implementation
Teachers were provided training opportunities with external consultants, which consisted of
2- to 3-day summer workshops. In addition, the consultants, who had teaching experience
and detailed knowledge of Open Court Reading© and were trained by McGraw-Hill Education,
visited and observed classrooms, and provided feedback to teachers.